Devils boys, Huskies girls get rivalry basketball wins
Eagle Valley boys improve to 2-0
Eagle Valley’s Bryan Martinez blocked the first shot Battle Mountain attempted. The deflection went straight to Devils senior Branden Vigil who promptly drained a 3.
Ten seconds into Tuesday’s rivalry game, Eagle Valley boys basketball had established the tone on the way to a 72-40 rivalry win over Battle Mountain in Gypsum.
If you are a Devils fan, it was a terrific night as your team moved to 2-0 in this abbreviated winter sports season. If you bleed black and gold, you saw your team fall to 0-3 and you really don’t want to talk about it.
“It feels amazing to beat them, especially after what they did to us last year,” Martinez said of the Huskies sweeping the Devils last winter.
The three major takeaways from this one for Eagle Valley start with the fact that the Devils were ready to go from the start for the second game in a row this season, something one wants to see from a team with playoff aspirations.
Student-athletes use the Internet and know that Battle Mountain entered 0-2. It could have been easy to take the Huskies lightly. Eagle Valley didn’t.
Then there was Devils senior Carlos Sanchez who just put on a show by dropping dimes. Devils fans know Sanchez is slick, having watched him play the last few years, but Tuesday’s game was confidence-inspiring for the season.
“He’s my cousin. It’s not a surprise,” Martinez said of Sanchez. “I expect those great drives and passes. He’s a great player.”
For a non-blood-related opinion, though not immensely different, we go to Devils coach Justin Brandt.
“He’s a gifted teammate,” the coach said. “It’s fun when someone’s that gifted and he wants to see his teammates excel.”
The third reason for optimism in the Devils’ camp is a balanced offense. Branden Villalobos led Eagle Valley with 14 off the bench. Branden Vigil had 13, Sanchez 12 and Eric Hasley 11.
As for the bigger question of, “Is Eagle Valley a good team,” truthfully, we don’t know yet. The Devils have two wins over teams that are a combined 0-5.
That is not the Devils’ fault. Those are the teams on their schedule so far and the Devils have beaten both soundly.
The next eight days or so should give us a better idea. The Devils are at Palisade on Thursday, host Steamboat Springs on Tuesday and are at Glenwood Springs on Feb. 11.
“When they really push the ball, share the ball and celebrate with each other, it’s going to be a fun year,” Brandt said.
Huskies girls cruise
Had fans been allowed for Tuesday night’s Battle Mountain-Eagle Valley girls basketball game, the “just like football,” chant might have started in Gypsum.
And, for once, it would have been welcomed by Battle Mountain, especially because the Huskies’ coach, Jim Schuppler, probably doesn’t need prompting to spit out the score from the fall. That would be Huskies, 30-21. He coaches both girls basketball and football.
“Of course, I think it’s a healthy rivalry and and a lot of respect goes unspoken,” said Schuppler, who wouldn’t touch the “Just like football” cheer with a 10-foot-pole because he’s been on the wrong side of the local donnybrook during the years.
“I think a healthy competitive rivalry is a very good thing. We try to be humble when we win and I try to bite my tongue when we don’t. But we cherish this rivalry across the board, no matter what the sport.”
Battle Mountain had its way with Eagle Valley Tuesday night, winning 56-14. The Huskies (2-1, 1-0) led 19-5 after a period and 35-8 at the half.
As if to punctuate that this was Battle Mountain’s night, junior Elizabeth Keiser ended the half with a 3-point attempt that bounced off the front of the rim and somehow magically spun backward and in.
The Huskies hit the 3 early and often with senior Alden Pennington having bookend shots from downtown during the first quarter. Keiser, as noted, struck twice from beyond the arc.
“We run through our plays everyday at this point. It’s muscle memory,” Pennington said. “We are working super-well together.”
Not only do four first-half 3s amount to 12 points, a large margin in girls basketball, but it opens up everything else offensively. Gabriele Caballero was happy to dribble into that void and slash to the hoop for 16 points. Pennington led all scorers with 17.
“We know we can’t rely on one player, no matter who that player is,” Schuppler said. “Tonight was beautiful. We had multiple 3-pint shooters and great discretion in the quality of our shots.”
While the Huskies are cautiously optimistic about their 2-1 start, yes, the Devils at 0-2, fall under the category of concerned, particularly about defense.
Eagle Valley’s teams are at Palisade on Thursday, while the Huskies host Summit on Saturday.